Over 10,000 chemists and drug retailers of Uttarakhand on Wednesday participated in the nationwide strike by All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists to protest against online sale of drugs, affecting lakhs of people in the state.
The chemist association in Dehradun handed over a memorandum to the district magistrate (DM) addressed to the chief minister and Prime Minister expressing resentment against e-pharmacies.
The main demand of the chemists is a ban on sale of medicines, including dangerous drugs, through online pharmacies on different websites, besides other issues.
“The strike was successful and we reported 100% closure of retail shops. We even boycotted emergency services at private hospitals,” Manish Nanda, president of Wholesale Chemist Association in the capital, told Hindustan Times.
Apart from monetary threats from online industry, chemists also fear danger to the lives of people. They claim that e-pharmacy will put no check on sale of contraceptive pills, aphrodisiac and Schedule 1 medicines that could prove fatal if not administered as per prescription.
Agitated members claimed that Food and Drug regulation officers regularly review their on-table sale, maintenance of records, expiry date medicines, and even godowns. But, there is no check on the online sale of pharmacy, they said. The chemists also fear that online pharmacy will wash away their business.
According to rough estimates of the association, over 20 lakh people were directly hit by the strike.
Parwati, a resident of Kanwali slum who visited a private doctor on Wednesday at Chakrata Road, said, “My son is ailing with high fever but the chemist shop at the hospital is closed. I will have to wait till tomorrow for medicines now.”